With a win Sunday over the Knicks, Miami pulled even with Milwaukee in the race for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks boast the head-to-head tiebreaker should the teams finish with matching records, but also own a decidedly more difficult schedule over the final two games having to face both Boston and Atlanta as those two squads jockey for the third seed.
While Boston enjoys another day off in Chicago Monday, the Celtics will have their eyes on tonight's Bucks-Hawks game as it could go a long way toward separating the clouds around this playoff picture.
Chicago's win over Toronto on Sunday helped the Bulls shimmy up to the final playoff spot, while the Raptors are now on the outside looking in. The Bulls are probably rooting for Boston to rest some starters Tuesday as they attempt to fend off Toronto down the stretch.
While unlikely to impact the Celtics too much, Boston does have a somewhat vested interest in the eighth seed. That's the team that will face Cleveland in the first round and, particularly if the Celtics end up with the four seed (which could set up a second-round matchup with the Cavaliers), then Boston might hope that the eighth seed can force Cleveland to expend as much energy as possible.
Here are the remaining schedules for teams in the race for the 3/4 and 5/6 seeds:
Boston Celtics (50-30)
Tuesday -- at Chicago (39-41)
Wednesday -- vs. Milwaukee (45-35)
Atlanta Hawks (51-29)
Monday -- at Milwaukee (45-35)
Wednesday -- vs. Cleveland (61-20)
Milwaukee Bucks (45-35)
Monday -- vs. Atlanta (51-29)
Wednesday -- at Boston (50-30)
Miami Heat (45-35)
Monday -- at Philadelphia (27-53)
Wednesday -- vs. New Jersey (12-68)
For more, check out our Playoff Matchups page.